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NSW Syllabuses

Investigating Science Stage 6 - Year 11 - Module 1: Cause and Effect – Observing Module 1: Cause and Effect – Observing


A student:

  • INS11/12-1

    develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation

  • INS11/12-3

    conducts investigations to collect valid and reliable primary and secondary data and information

  • INS11/12-4

    selects and processes appropriate qualitative and quantitative data and information using a range of appropriate media

  • INS11-8

    identifies that the collection of primary and secondary data initiates scientific investigations

Related Life Skills outcomes: SCLS6-1, SCLS6-3, SCLS6-4, SCLS6-8

Content Focus

Observation instigates all scientific experimentation. Investigative scientific processes can only be applied to phenomena that can be observed and measured. Detailed observations motivate scientists to ask questions about the causes and the effects of phenomena they observe. In this way, science continues to progress and enhance the lives of individuals and society by encouraging a continued search for reason and understanding.

Students explore the importance of observation and the collection of quantitative and qualitative data in scientific investigations. They conduct their own practical investigation, either individually or collaboratively, which is used to demonstrate the importance of making detailed and accurate observations, determining the types of variables and formulating testable scientific hypotheses.

Working Scientifically

In this module, students focus on developing hypotheses that arise from their observations and evaluate these in order to gather, select and process appropriate qualitative and quantitative data. Students should be provided with opportunities to engage with all Working Scientifically skills throughout the course.



  • Role of Observations

  • Inquiry question: How does observation instigate scientific investigation?
  • Students:
  • carry out a practical investigation to record both quantitative and qualitative data from observations, for example:
  • burning a candle floating in a closed container
  • the behaviour of slaters in a dry/wet or light/dark environment
  • the Bernoulli effect
  • strata in rock cuttings
  • discuss and evaluate the characteristics of observations made compared to inferences drawn in respect of the practical investigation l
  • research how observation has instigated experimentation to investigate cause and effect in historical examples, including but not limited to: cctict
  • Archimedes observing the displacement of water
  • Alexander Fleming’s observations of the effect of mould on bacteria
  • Galileo’s observations of the movement of Jupiter’s moons
  • assess ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples use observation to develop an understanding of Country and Place in order to create innovative ways of managing the natural environment, including but not limited to: ahcseeuiudd
  • fire-stick farming
  • knowledge about plants for medicinal purposes
  • Observations

  • Inquiry question: What are the benefits and drawbacks of qualitative and quantitative observations?
  • Students:
  • carry out a practical activity to qualitatively and quantitatively describe, for example:
  • microscopic images of a variety of cells
  • geological strata in rock faces and road cuttings
  • an object falling due to gravity
  • characteristics of acids and bases
  • analyse the quantitative data from the following information sources, including but not limited to: ictnwe
  • digital images and hand-drawn diagrams of cells
  • geological succession obtained from rock strata
  • graphs of results obtained from observations of an object falling due to gravity
  • data showing the pH of acids and bases
  • evaluate the differences between qualitative and quantitative observations and data and where these are used ictnwe
  • Observations as Evidence

  • Inquiry question: How does primary data provide evidence for further investigation?
  • Students:
  • use data gathered to plan a practical investigation to: cctl
  • pose further questions that will be investigated
  • discuss the role of variables 
  • determine the independent and dependent variables
  • formulate a hypothesis that links the independent and dependent variables
  • describe at least three variables that should be controlled in order to increase the validity of the investigation
  • develop a method to collect primary data for a practical investigation by: cctl
  • describing how to change the independent variable 
  • determining the characteristics of the measurements that will form the dependent variable
  • describing how the data will be collected
  • describing how the controlled variables will be made consistent
  • describing how risks can be minimised
  • evaluate how observation is limited by the observational tools available, including but not limited to: cctictn
  • observing the Universe
  • digital versus analogue technologies
  • Observing, Collecting and Recording Data

  • Inquiry question: How does the collection and presentation of primary data affect the outcome of a scientific investigation?
  • Students:
  • carry out the planned practical investigation, above, to collect primary data cctictwe
  • apply conventions for collecting and recording observations to qualitatively and quantitatively analyse the primary data, including but not limited to: cctictlwe
  • tabulation
  • graphing
  • visual representations
  • digital representations
  • compare the usefulness of observations recorded in the initial practical activity with the primary data gathered in this planned practical investigation
  • Conclusions Promote Further Observations

  • Inquiry question: How do conclusions drawn from the interpretation of primary data promote further scientific investigation?
  • Students:
  • draw conclusions from the analysis of the primary data collected in the practical investigation cctwe
  • evaluate the process of drawing conclusions from the primary data collected
  • assess the findings of the scientific investigation in relation to the findings of other related investigations
  • assess the need to make further observations by gathering data about other phenomena arising from the practical investigation cctwe